2023 AT&T Byron Nelson leaderboard, grades: Jason Day breaks five-year drought with one-shot victory
Day was 23 under at the same tournament where he won for first time on PGA Tour in 2010
Jason Day has been playing like a top five player in the world throughout 2023. Now he has the victory to prove it.
Day won the AT&T Byron Nelson on Sunday over Scottie Scheffler, Austin Eckroat, Si Woo Kim and Tyrrell Hatton by shooting 62 at TPC Craig Ranch to finish at 23 under and erase a five-year winning drought.
The day of the victory is not insignificant.
The last time Day won a PGA Tour event was in 2018 at the Wells Fargo Championship. That win marked the end of a three-year run in which he seemingly won everything he looked at. Ten of his 12 PGA Tour wins happened from 2015-18, including a Players and the PGA Championship.
Day's mother, Dening — who was especially meaningful to the Australian after she spent her life providing for Jason following his father's death in his pre-teen years — died from cancer last March. The emotion from this win was in part to his winning drought and all the work it took to get back to where he is now, sure, but much of it was because of his , too.
"It's been a struggling few years -- five years since my last win -- so to be able to get the win the way I played today was really special. I'm very pleased and happy with how things have progressed over the last couple of years for me," Day told CBS Sports.
"I lost my mom last year, and this was kind of the first one without her. To have her name on my caddie bib was special."
And while Day's relationship with his mother, Dening, is worthy of celebration, Day's play on the course so far in 2023 is worthy of admiration.
What's changed? How about everything, starting with Day getting healthy.
Day is also, affectionately, a sicko golf nerd who is obsessed with the sport.
"Nonstop grinding and nonstop wanting to improve and get better," Day said. "I've had a lot of injuries with my back, and for a moment there I thought I wasn't going to play again. Then trying to get through those two years of just trying to get through a tournament was difficult. To be on the other side of it, to be healthy, feeling good about my game, finally winning again, no better feeling really."
Day is hitting approach shots better than he did even in 2015 and 2016 when he won seven times and became the No. 1 player in the world. And while his driving and putting are not quite at those levels, they're not far off either. It takes, as Day said after the round, a ridiculous drive for excellence to bounce back from where he fell to (as low as No. 164 in the world last year) to where he is now, back in the winner's circle with victory No. 13.
Coming into this week, only Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay and Tony Finau had better strokes-gained numbers this year. Day will likely leap two (and possibly three) of them after this performance, which would make him either the third or fourth best player in the world in 2023 going into the PGA Championship next week.
Does it feel like that? Does it feel like Day has been the third or fourth best player in the world in 2023? I'm not sure it does, but I'm also not sure it matters. Because the numbers are the numbers, and Day has satisfyingly proved on paper what he believed across all those hours of grinding and working: That he is once again one of the top golfers on the planet. Grade: A+
T5. Scottie Scheffler (-20): The No. 2 player in the world did not have the weekend he envisioned. Though he played quite well on Sunday afternoon, it was a 71 on Saturday (in which he shot 1-over 36 on the back nine) that undid his chances of winning for the third time this season. Still, he has to be pleased that he's gone [checks notes] 1-T12-T4-1-4-T10-T11-T5 over his last eight golf tournaments and has a major championship on deck. The Oak Hill conversation starts with Scheffler and Jon Rahm and absolutely nobody else. Grade: A-
T5. Tyrrell Hatton (-20): Hatton came in as the second-shortest favorite in the field behind Scheffler, and though he didn't play up to that expectation, he still played very well. Although, I'm not sure Hatton has ever believed he played well at any event he's ever played.
"I would like to be standing over my irons feeling really comfortable and I haven't really had that," Hatton said. "Didn't really have that over the weekend at Wells Fargo either. It's weirdly transitioned into this week, but somehow kind of doing nicely on the leaderboard again. So maybe I have to be a little less hard on myself. I don't know."
The top 20 is Hatton's third consecutive top 20 on the PGA Tour and his fifth in his last eight PGA Tour events. I don't know what he's going to win the PGA Championship next week, but he's at least an interesting sleeper. Grade: A
T8. Adam Scott (-19): Scott quietly takes back-to-back top 10s into the PGA Championship. He finished T5 at Quail Hollow last week and closed the Nelson with a 63, which matched and bookended his 63 from Round 1 to finish T8 this week.
The issues with Scott this year have been with both the putter and on his approach shots. He improved on the latter over the last few weeks and has been absolutely lights out recently with the former.
Can he get major win No. 2 at the age of 42?
"I think you just move a little slower as you're a bit older, but this is the time of year you want to be playing good," Scott said. "Ideally you kind of start playing really great in March, but it's six or eight weeks later and there's still a lot of big golf coming up with the PGA right in front of my mind." Grade: A
T74. Seung Yul Noh (-7): Remember when Noh shot 60 on Thursday in the first round? Yeah, it didn't go so well over the last three days. He closed 74-74-70 and finished four strokes worse than he was on Thursday on a golf course that was playing well under par. As it turns out, gaining six strokes with the putter in Round 1 is sometimes a harbinger of bad scores to come. Grade: C+
Jason Day gets his first victory in five years at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Kyle Porter and Greg DuCharme break down a low scoring day on Mother's Day. It's storylines, scorecards, recapping bets and the one and done. Then, KP and Greg open up PGA Championship discussions. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Bad shot into 17
Jason Day did not hit a very good shot into No. 17. He left his approach short, and he's nursing a one-stroke lead over Si Woo Kim (also playing No. 17) and C.T. Pan, whose round is over. Scottie Scheffler needs to eagle No. 18 to tie Day at 22 under.
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